Monday, 2 January 2017


18th December
Making Christmas crackers.

19th December
A quick trip into Spain to buy some nice Christmas food and drink (anchovies, razor clams, spring onions, sherry .....).
Finished making crackers.

20th December
And today into CB to finish food shopping and that's it, no more shopping hopefully until the New Year.
Present wrapping this afternoon and I'm so frustrated - the stupid sellotape doesn't stick and we purposely bought it from Jumbo rather than a China shop!
Chicken liver pate made.
I made some Chai tea concentrate, as I don't fancy coffee in the evenings.
Simmer together in for 20 minutes:
1 pint water
2-3 ozs muscovado sugar
2-3" fresh ginger (cut into thin slices)
15 cloves
5 allspice
1 tspn black peppercorns
2 tspn cardamom seeds
3 star anise
1 tspn vanilla extract
Take off heat, add 5 teabag (being me I used 8 used teabags!) and seep for 10 minutes.
Strain liquid off, when cool bottle and keep in fridge.
To make a cup of chai mix 1 part chai concentrate, 1 part water and 2 parts milk in a saucepan, heat to taste.

21st December
I am shattered; for some reason my house tidying turned into a major 'spring clean', I even cleaned the oven! But the house does look clean and tidy.

22nd December
L&J arrived at lunchtime - let the festivities begin .....

23rd December
Happy Birthday me!!!
I had a lovely day doing crafty things with Lesley - decorations for house, table etc. Drying slices of oranges and clementines (lovely smell).
Brett and Jacob did 'man' things, like driving the tractor and mucking out the animals.
We went into Penamacor this evening; the idea was to eat, walk around the market, and watch the huge bonfire being lit at midnight - it didn't quite go to plan ...... The market was practically non existent, the restaurant was heaving so service was slow and for some reason our food was cold/uncooked (so pretty poor, it's usually good there - but, in a way, it added to the strange evening) and we (not just me it was a group decision) didn't last until midnight*! However we still had fun, we went into the Hub (pop up bar) were I was handed a beaker of Bailey's (birthday treat) by Jamie - which definitely helped!
* Later we spoke to friends who went to the midnight event; they said it was heaving with people, masses of things going on (people on stilts, people dressed in illuminated butterfly costumes (why?), bands, children acting out the nativity etc etc). It all started around 11.30 (when we were snuggily back home).

24th December
A full on day of Christmas preparation making/preparing: trifle (one with and one without sherry), turkey into brine (on the decking),
ham out of brine (boiled and baked), mince pies, finish bacon, stuffing, bacalhau (traditional Christmas eve meal in Portugal) - I am shattered, but everything is prepared (thanks to all my helpers) and the house looks and smells lovely.
Merry Christmas ......

25th December
Merry Christmas ......
Well I had some amazing presents:- from Brett I had a spinning wheel (now I have to learn to spin properly!),
Not my actual one (that still needs to be assembled).
it was the year of scarves (I gave two and received three), and too many more to mention.
Diane & Thomas came for drinks at midday and P&M joined us for lunch.
We ate too much food! We played Christmas games and, once P&M had gone, we relaxed in front of the fire and watched 'Home Alone'.
Jacob had an interesting present, it went in the fire to make colored flames.

26th December
We took L&J to Monsanto, which they loved.
Oh dear this poor man, for some obscure reason, had decided to drive into the village - the streets are incredibly narrow (it's medieval) with lots of large stones, doorsteps, window sills and balconies jutting into them, they are also very bendy and terribly steep. He was stuck across a road attempting (and failing) to turn around - several people were advising him. We went for a drink, 1/2 an hour later he was still there but now with a shattered wing mirror and a large dent in his passenger's door. Someone was directing him as he backed down the road (he couldn't see because of his broken mirror).
Jacob enjoyed Home Alone so much that Brett found 'Mousehunt' for him this evening.

27th December
L&J's five day visit passed very swiftly, they left just before lunch; Lesley took some lovely photos before they went,
Tinkerbell practicing her circus routine!

Grazing geese....
we loved having them, they we 'easy' guests, and look forward to them coming back (hopefully in the summer?).
This afternoon I spent trying to spin ...... I HATE it, I'm absolutely rubbish at it - I hope Brett is correct and that I will improve with practice!

28th December
A quick trip into CB and then another relaxing afternoon.
We're still trying to get through all the Christmas food!

29th December
Happy Birthday Karina xxx
Pam came round to help me with my spinning (I was threatening to burn my wheel!). She can't actually spin(!) however, me trying to teach her actually helped me to realise that I had progressed a lot since I first started (two days ago). I am now able to draft (tease out) the wool much better, control the twist (kind of) and get the yarn wound onto the bobbin. I was using a small skein of beautifully prepared wool that came with my wheel. Now I have to learn to do it with real sheepwool (straight off the sheep).
Karina is going to let me have some of her wool to work with, until our sheep are sheared. It didn't register, when we bought our first sheep, that our brown ewes are a breed called Black Merino - Merino wool is a highly prized for spinning, weaving and knitting; it's a lovely soft wool that can be worn close to the skin.

30th December
It's not that I'm particularly clumsy, it's just that once I start falling I can't save myself - I was taking a short cut across someone else's land, there was barbed wire at ankle height (hidden amongst grass), it wrapped around my feet and there I was, splat, on the ground ..... feeling a bit teary, vulnerable and achy!
We went to A&K's today to pick up some wool, I was given a bottle of Karina's rather special plum wine for my birthday (very happy!).
So I started carding the washed wool K&A gave me (the rest is soaking in a tub of water from the washing I did today) and my one of my carders snapped in half (along the grain)!!!! Brett cut a piece of wood to patch it with, hopefully it will work.

31st December
Achy in all my joints .......
Hoorah, Brett's carder repair worked! So I carded a few rollags for spinning tomorrow.
P&M hosted a NYE party; we arrived at 8.00, by 10.00 I was asking if it was nearly midnight, time dragged ....... at midnight we celebrated, then suddenly it was 2.00, time sped up. It was a good night, I think I spoke to everyone at the party.

1st January 2017
Karina & Alex's dog, Mishka, disappeared two months ago; she returned home today ..... very pregnant!!!!
I made some very knobby yarn from K&A's sheep's wool

it's a start! I've been 'researching' (mainly browsing Pinterest!) spinning techniques, troubleshooting etc and come across ART YARN and weaving with Art Yarn (so, of course, now I want a loom!) - it's yarn that embraces the 'imperfections'; so it's lumpy, bumpy, thick, thin, smooth, wispy, and it can be made into fabulous shawls, throws, bags etc ........ but first I have to learn to spin properly, so that I can control what I produce.

2nd January
Still achy (feel almost fluey!).
In the last year or so I read an article on dyeing fabric with Kool-Aid (a horrible powder mix for drinking), I can't get actual Kool-Aid but bought something I think must be similar; however I never got around to using it (bet you know where this is going!). I want to try dyeing some of my yarn, I thought this would be a good experiment to use the 'Kool-Aid' with; I have hunted 'high and low', in the kitchen, living room and studio (I even took this as an opportunity to tidy the studio), and can't find the bloody stuff - so frustrating.

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